There were more than 400 victims that were forced into marriage in the UK over the last year, according to a report from Sky News.
Sky News spoke to Karma Nirvana, a specialist charity for victims and survivors of honour-based abuse in the UK, who said they “supported more than 2,500 victims of honour-based abuse within the last year, 417 of them were forced into marriage and at least 82 children in the UK were threatened with being wed”.
Earlier this year, the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022, which gained Royal Assent in April last year, made it a criminal offence to cause a child to marry, with a sentence up to seven years in prison.
The change was made to eliminate forced marriages which can cause lasting damage to a child.
Natasha Rattu, executive director of Karma Nirvana, told Sky News:
“A clear definition for honour-based abuse is needed because the issues are so hidden and are often misidentified.
It’s really vitally important that those who are on the front line have an opportunity to identify it, such as police officers, social workers and health professionals, so they can offer the best support.”
In 2021, the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) gave advice and support in 337 cases related to a possible forced marriage and/or possible female genital mutilation (FGM). It also responded to 868 general enquiries, according to gov.uk.
Karma Nirvana also claims “policing around this issue has regressed over the last nine years since an inspection was carried out in 2015”.
The minister for safeguarding, Sarah Dines, reported to Sky News:
“I’m always concerned if people say they’re not trained enough, and I want there to be more training.”
At the moment the strategy definition might not be helpful, we will consider whether there needs to be a change, but at the moment we do have definitions of domestic abuse and honour-based abuse is just part of the whole strategy that we’re doing to try and improve things for vulnerable people.”